Lean and the Real Customer – Part 2

Lean and the Real Customer – Part 2

Article by Mark Gregory:

So engage the employee and it makes a difference to your customer which makes a difference to you profit. Not rocket science I hear you say! Agreed. So why don’t you do it then or worse why do you pretend you do it?

A service culture at its heart must be an engaging culture; a culture where by every internal customer must be engaged as a whole person. This means equipping our people managers and leaders to think and behave differently and use the lean tools as customer service tools. When I help organisations embed a lean philosophy my advice is generally think of the lean tools as an engagement vehicle and the improvement interventions as an opportunity to engender greater levels of employee engagement first and improve the business secondly. When we do this we obtain more of the whole person. The more we tap the whole person, the individual, the more engagement we obtain. Back to the Sears proposition.

So what about employee engagement mapping instead of value stream mapping or visual engagement instead of visual factory or leader prevention training instead of accident prevention training. I also often hear those who work in the field of lean philosophy talk about empowering the staff. Just imagine how easy that we be if we focussed on the person before the process.

For those of you that are still not quite there and are thinking, “that’s not the real world the answer is simple, if you are not careful the internal customer is only doing what you want on the outside and my experience suggests what’s on the inside eventually appears on the outside. I am not saying this is easy as those who have tried leadership and engagement will tell you it is relentless and unforgiving, but we should be familiar with this as that’s what customer loyalty is like.

As Alan Jones, Chairman Emeritus of Toyota UK said, “Wherever you work, your job as a manager is to make your people the very best they can be – and usually they don’t know just how good they could be. It’s individuals that make the difference. For Toyota, this approach is not based on altruism – though it is based on a profound respect for its members. It is predicated on the firm belief that the most valuable asset the company has is its people, and that enabling them to have an intellectual and emotional relationship with their work, as well as a financial stake in the success of the company, is the key to continuous product and productivity improvement from the shop floor to the boardroom. Toyota’s people are their competitive advantage.”

So who is the real customer really?

Click here to read part 1..

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